Financial Services & Resources For Young Adults

happy couple putting money in piggy bank
When you are just starting out in your career – and especially when you are still in school – it might seem weird to think about retirement. However, when you start saving as early as possible, you give your future the best chance at success. Every little bit helps – especially when that little bit is going to be given the chance to grow over the course of your career.

If you were planning on starting your retirement saving in your 30s, you might want to rethink that idea. By starting now, the extra 10 years or more could make a huge difference in your savings totals. As the amount you deposit gains interest, that interest gains interest and so on. This compound interest, as its called, gives you quite a boost.

If you already feel like you are struggling to get by, the last thing you want to do is put money away for retirement, but there are a few things you can do to make this saving easy.

Sign Up For Your Employer’s 401(k) – If your employer offers a 401(k), be sure you sign up for it – especially if your employer matches your deposits. You might think that you’d prefer that extra money in your pocket, but it will be most beneficial to you as your retirement savings.

Save As Much As You Can – Whether your employer offers a 401(k) or not, it’s beneficial to engage in additional saving. $20 here or there can really add up over the course of the year. Keep track of all of the ways you cut back on spending and use that cash to contribute to your IRA annually.

Roth And Roll – Going the Roth route makes a ton of sense, especially at this stage of your career. You don’t get the same tax break annually as you do with a Traditional IRA but you get to receive your funds tax-free at retirement. This is a huge deal when we’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars. Talk with your tax advisor to see if a Roth IRA makes sense for you and deposit as much as you can annually. If you have one, it even might make sense to rollover your Traditional IRA into a Roth.
Stock Exchange screen
When you think about investing, you may immediately think about the stock market and high-priced possessions such as real estate (like the landlords you may have met in college who flip houses for money).

Although it may seem like you need a lot of cash to invest in anything nowadays, that’s not always the case. Different types of investments can help you accrue a healthy return on your money without the added risk or a lot of capital. And that means you can beef up your savings without those sleepless nights – good deal!

One riskless investing method you may want to consider is called CD Laddering. CDs – or Share Certificates as they are known at your credit union – are savings products that earn a higher dividend rate than regular Share Accounts. This is because you deposit your money in a Share Certificate for a set “term” (period of time). For instance, you can invest in a Share Certificate for six months, one year, three years or maybe even five years, depending on what your financial institution offers.

Here’s how laddering works: Let’s say you have $500 in your Savings Account, and you want to start earning more money. Instead of investing the entire $500 in one Certificate, you can invest in five separate Share Certificates. Purchase a 1-year, 2-year, 3-year, 4-year, and 5-year Certificate (or the terms that work for you). Each year, roll the Certificate that comes due to a new higher yield 5-year Share Certificate. By the fifth year, all of your Certificates will be receiving the highest dividend, plus you will only have to wait one year as opposed to five for a Certificate to mature. This means you’ll have access to your money faster since you can’t tap into a Certificate while it’s maturing (unless you want to pay a penalty).

If this technique sounds confusing, don’t worry – a member service representative at your credit union will be able to help you get started on the road to great returns. To learn more about investing for your future, read some of the other articles in this section, or stop by your credit union and ask us how we can help.
Necklaces on store display
If you think outside of the box, there are probably many ways you can utilize your talents to make some extra dough. Working in this way is great for when you are in school or as some extra cash when you start working full time.

Start A Handmade Craft Business – There is a huge Do It Yourself movement happening across the country – and even the world – right now. It’s never been so easy to get your creations sold. Artists no longer need to spend every weekend at craft fairs (unless they want to!). They can now sell their art online thanks to sites like With sites like this, you can set up a store to sell anything you create: wedding invitations, party invites, holiday cards, curtains, illustrations, fabric items, and even jewelry. Especially if you create things that are part of the latest trends, you’ll definitely be able to cash in.

Seek Out Treasures – If you are really good at spotting cool antique treasures at thrift stores, your talents could be worth quite a lot to people across the country. Many people don’t have the patience or know-how to sort through items at thrift stores and would rather head to to purchase these special treasures. Head to thrift stores and grab all the cool vintage stuff you can find and then list it on eBay. Depending on how much you pay for it, you can make quite a profit by selling these items.

Do Freelance Work – Do you write, edit or design? Offer your talents by designing logos, websites or brochures. Sites like are a great place to look for assignments. You can also get the word out there about your services via family and friends. It’s an exciting way to build your portfolio and make extra cash at the same time.
Recycling symbol
Many people have a misconception that “going green” is expensive. When, in fact, in many cases going green saves you tons of…well, green. Help Mother Earth and your wallet with these easy tips.

Conserve Energy – You’ve been hearing this from your parents for years, but it goes beyond turning off lights when you leave a room. However, you should continue to do that too! In addition to lights and TVs, turn off other electronics like computers and video game consoles each day. And don’t forget to unplug items that are not in use – yes, cell phone chargers count, too.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – When it comes to money and the environment, this adage rings true. Cut back on spending and waste by reducing your purchases and consumption. Reuse what you already have and recycle what you can when you’re done.

Share And Share Alike – In addition to reusing what you can, sharing items or borrowing them from friends and family will help you all cut back on spending. Even if your pals don’t have what you need, you can often find inexpensive or free items on sites like, or

Pack Your Lunch – After years of eating ramen noodles, once you start your first job, ordering your lunch every day might feel like a luxury you deserve. However, not only is ordering out costly but it is also wasteful. Take out containers and excess packaging contributes to the 4.6 pounds of trash the average American produces per day, according to the Clean Air Council. Buy a reusable lunch container and Tupperware, and then bring your lunch every day. You’ll save hundreds of dollars –and pounds of trash – each year.

Reuse Your Water Bottle, Too – Keep the bottles out of the landfills and keep more cash in your pocket. Each purchase of bottled water costs a dollar on average. By refilling a bottle with filtered water from your place, you’ll stay hydrated – and your bank account will stay happy.

Clean And Green – Whether it’s at your parents’ house or your apartment, it’s always a good idea to clean with homemade products. They work just as well – and in many cases better than the store-bought kind. Plus, they cost just pennies to make. Make your own disinfectant by mixing 2 cups of water with 3 tablespoons of dish soap. Add 20 to 30 drops of tea tree oil for an added kick!
Volunteers picking up trash
Have you heard of the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation? This is an organization that has one main goal: to change the world through kindness.

So what are Random Acts of Kindness? Well, basically it means you do nice things for people – at random, of course. The idea is that you do something nice for someone, and then that person “pays it forward” to someone else, creating a circle of positivity.

And This Has What To Do With College?
Well, the good news is, while the concept of “Random Acts of Kindness” is based upon people being purely altruistic (meaning “being nice just for the sake of niceness”), things like:
  • Volunteering At A Local Organization
  • Helping Out At A Soup Kitchen
  • Delivering Groceries To Shut-Ins
  • Sending Cards To Troops Or Hospitalized Children

It will not only make you feel like a million bucks, but they could be volunteering experiences that may enhance a college application or even your resume.

Think About It!
You can’t go wrong when it comes to helping others, and the ability to add volunteer work to your resume or college app is a huge bonus.
Girl reading outside
As a college student, either you think about finances in an interesting way, or you don’t think about them at all! So consider the bigger picture and think about how you can keep more green in your pocket.

Time is money: There are 168 hours in the week – 40 for school, 56 for sleep and the leftover 72 for other activities such as sports, socializing and part-time jobs. This means time is your major resource; when you start managing your time and identifying where you spend it, it is easier to manage your money. Pair costs with your hours and identify how you are spending to see if all that spending is justified.

Do the math: Although a few dollars here and a few dollars there on small indulgences do not seem like a big deal, keep track of what you spend on these items. Be especially aware of what you spend on food and beverages. If you spend approximately $20 a week on beverages, you will spend a total of $1,040 a year! This is quite a chunk of cash, so reducing how much you spend by a few dollars a week can really save some money.

Avoid the unnecessary: Of course you should caution against frivolous spending, but more importantly, avoid parking tickets, speeding tickets, late fees, and other charges that usually come from laziness or apathy. Follow the signs, follow the rules, and read the fine print to avoid these costly mistakes.

Find student discounts: There are tons of student discounts available on everything from travel expenses to technology costs. When making a purchase, it never hurts to ask if they offer a student discount. You can also check online for sites that feature student discount options or tips on shopping around.

Transport yourself wisely: There are times it makes sense to drive, and other times when walking, biking or taking the bus will be more economical. The obvious driving cost is gas, but driving can also have some hidden costs such as tolls, maintenance, and emergencies. If you can walk to the supermarket, go for the walk and reap the added rewards of exercise and lessening your carbon footprint.

Educate yourself: You are in college to learn. You should be learning about the different aspects of your major, your future field of choice, and about life. Numbers and finances are going to be something you deal with on a daily basis in life. Learn as much as you can and become financially aware so if you make mistakes, you can make them early and learn. If you put a smudge on your credit, it will take time to rebuild, so it’s better to smudge earlier rather than later!